TWO of the seven Zimbabwean men facing a US$10 million tax fraud rap in the United States have reached deals with prosecutors which will see their sentences reduced in return for cooperating with investigators.
Kudzaiishe Marimbire, 34, Hlomera Mabhande, 30, Johanes Tagarisa, 37, Kudzaishe Bungu, 26, Tawanda Marimbire, 23, Andrew Bere, 22, and Julius Marimbire, 32, are charged with using stolen identities to obtain US$10 million in fraudulent income tax returns in Cincinnati, Ohio.
But Bungu and Marimbire this week reached a deal with prosecutors which would significantly reduce their sentences.
Bungu now faces 10 years in jail from a possible 60 years after several other charges were dropped in return for cooperating with investigators. Marimbire is expected to finalise his deal early next month.
Authorities the seven men ran a tax preparation business in Cincinnati, and used identities of at least 658 people to file false returns, collecting between $2.4 million and $10 million since 2007.
“The defendants (allegedly) stole personal identifying information for thousands of actual people," said Carter Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
"They allegedly used this information to file false federal income tax returns to obtain refunds, often before the actual taxpayers ever filed legitimate tax returns. The defendants usually received the fraudulent refunds on debit cards tied to the returns."
Once the false income tax refunds were deposited on the prepaid debit cards, the defendants and others working on their behalf allegedly cashed them in at ATM machines or by purchasing money orders.
The cash was allegedly sent through bank wires to co-conspirators in Africa and used by the suspects to buy expensive vehicles in the US and then transport them to Zimbabwe.
One of the accused men, Hlomera Mabhande, died in a car accident in Zimbabwe two months ago.